*Washington, D.C. – After Jussie Smollett’s indictment on felony charges for lying to law enforcement about an alleged hate crime, members of the Project 21 black leadership network are asking the NAACP to rescind Smollett’s nomination for an upcoming Image Awards.
“Everyone has a reason to be disappointed with Jussie Smollett right now, and these accumulated reasons justify the NAACP taking swift and appropriate action to remove him from consideration for its Image Award,” said Project 21 Co-Chairman Council Nedd II. “Smollett is charged with perpetrating a hate crime hoax that wasted valuable police resources and stoked racial tensions nationwide. It hurt our nation’s ability to heal its racial wounds and made the NAACP’s civil rights goals harder to achieve. The NAACP needs to make it clear that his behavior is not OK by removing him from contention for an Image Award.”
Smollett was nominated for “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.” Smollett’s nomination was announced before the actor was charged in the hoax, and Project 21 members say rescinding it now would allow the NAACP to preserve the intent of the Image Awards to honor “individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavors.” The NAACP Image Awards are scheduled to be held on March 30 in Hollywood.
“Jussie Smollett was charged with 16 counts of disorderly misconduct for allegedly lying to the Chicago police, who said the actor orchestrated a racist and homophobic hate crime against himself,” said Project 21 member Jerome Hudson. “The NAACP was founded to help move America beyond our deeply racist past. Generations of men and women – both black and white – have dedicated their lives to that noble cause. It would be nothing short of a slap in the face to those civil rights heroes for the NAACP to now honor Smollett with an Image Award while he’s suspected of using symbols of racial barbarism – including a noose – to shamelessly advance and promote his career.”
Smollett, an actor on the Fox Network show “Empire,” claimed to have been attacked on a Chicago street on January 29, alleging that two men targeted him because he is black and gay. After a thorough investigation, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson reported that Smollett colluded with others to stage the attack and “took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” adding that “[t]his stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary.”
“More than enough time has passed for the NAACP to revoke Jussie Smollett’s Image Award nomination, and yet it hasn’t. Why?” asked Project 21 member Derryck Green. “That the so-called civil rights organization hasn’t rescinded Smollett’s nomination in light of the evidence released by the Chicago Police Department, the lie-filled interview with Robin Roberts and a grand jury’s decision to indict him on 16 counts of felonious disorderly conduct leads many to believe the NAACP has once again chosen racial solidarity over truth and integrity. Smollett embarrassed himself. He’s a fraud. The NAACP should distance itself from Smollett and not continue to damage what’s left of its reputation.”
This is the second time Project 21 has criticized the selection process of the NAACP Image Awards. In 2004, Project 21 took issue with the nomination of R&B singer R. Kelly being nominated for “Outstanding Album” while he was under indictment for alleged child pornography violations. At that time, NAACP’s then-President Kweisi Mfume said the NAACP’s board would reconsider the selection process for the Image Awards to ensure no nominee “fails to meet the high standards for positive, constructive images on which the program was originally created.”
After Smollett’s Image Award nomination in February, and before Smollett’s hate-crime allegations began to unravel, NAACP President Derrick Johnson told The Wrap: “We need to aggressively pursue a course of action that if, in fact, individuals committed these crimes they are held accountable, as well as pursue a course of action in the media to allow people to understand that we must have more tolerance and acceptance of all citizens.”
Project 21 members hope the NAACP will now similarly hold Smollett accountable and pursue a course of action that will help heal the damage Smollett’s apparent hoax has done to racial reconciliation. To not do so, they contend, puts the group’s reputation at risk.
“Why would the NAACP want to nominate a hate crime hoaxer for an Image Award? It would only do so to perpetuate the image of hatred and bigotry that keeps the antiquated organization relevant in the 21st century,” said Project 21 member Richard Holt. “Since it can’t seem to legitimize its continued existence by fighting for real black issues – such as black entrepreneurial access to capital, judicial reform and the black genocide conducted by Planned Parenthood – it will follow the typical leftist racism trope. Maybe the NAACP should get back to its roots so we can all imagine a version of the organization that seeks to help people of color get to the mountain’s peak that is within arm’s length.”
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.
Founded in 1982, the National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from some 60,000 individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. Sign up for email updates here. Follow Project 21 on Twitter at @Project21News for general announcements. To be alerted to upcoming media appearances by Project 21 members, follow our media appearances Twitter account at @NCPPRMedia.
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National Center for Public Policy Research
Pastor Cal Keeps Love Alive on ‘Married at First Sight’ (EUR EXCLUSIVE!)
*For 11 seasons, “Married at First Sight” (MAFS) has been the ultimate experiment in matchmaking as couples who have never met – complete strangers – tie the knot.
If you are not familiar with the popular Lifetime series, people looking for love are matched by relationship experts (Dr. Pepper Schwartz, Dr. Viviana Coles, and Pastor Calvin Roberson-known as Pastor Cal) and agree to tie the knot before meeting their mates.
The show follows the couples for a few weeks as they experience their first meeting at their weddings, their honeymoons, meeting each other’s families, and other milestone events all the while being counseled by the experts. At the end of each season, the couples are given the chance to continue in their marriage or get a divorce.
While some may question the show’s premise, the EUR spoke to Pastor Cal recently and he said the series is genuine.
“My job on the show is to get these couples, put them together, and make sure they stay together,” said Pastor Cal. “My goal is to look at their differences, see where they’re compatible, counsel them and in some cases, threaten them, to make it work. All the experts, our focus, is simply making sure the couples stay together.”
As for a method in which the couples are matched, he added, “There isn’t a solid formula we apply to every couple. It has to be tweaked as we find out people’s peculiarities. It can be nerve-wracking but it’s rewarding in the end.”
Like many MAFS seasons, there are surprising revelations and this one, featuring couples from New Orleans, is no exception.
“Season 11 has brought us so many surprises,” Pastor Cal said. “Even in casting, one of the couples we thought would get along much quicker is one of the ones lagging behind. And one couple we thought would move slower to intimacy are moving ahead. And that’s with Miles and Karen being the slower and Woody and Amani being the faster of the two.”
He continued, “Also, by my own admission, I fall on the sword on this one, I was not expecting Bennett and Amelia to get along so well. I thought she would be put off more by his lack of profession. It was a big surprise to me.”
The next MAFS season will include Atlanta couples and after that the show heads to Houston, which is casting now. Pastor Cal told the EUR that the show adapts to the couples from each city.
“I believe that every city we film in brings a certain flavor and the participants from that city take on the flavor from that city,” Pastor Cal said. “New Orleans is laid-back, they party, and it’s a very fun city as opposed to a city like D.C. that is very political, buttoned up, and tight. But definitely we found that every city influences the participants. We definitely see different personalities coming out of each city.”
Speaking of Atlanta, Pastor Cal is the lead pastor at Progression church in the peach city. He and his wife Wendy have a marriage coaching organization that offers marriage and relationship conferences, boot camps, and seminars worldwide.
While COVID-19 may have slowed down the in-person events, that has not stopped people from contacting Pastor Cal for love connections, “Because of COVID, we’re online. I get more people through DM’s, email, etc. asking me to match them.”
And how does the church feel about the show?
“My church actually loves it.” Pastor Cal said. “They are so supportive and such an incredible group of people. They tell people about the show. Our church was actually founded on relationships, so it was an easy fit. Our church was founded on positive marriage and positive family.”
Look out for Pastor Cal’s book, “Marriage Ain’t for Punks,” slated to come out next year.
If you are interested in being on “Married at First Sight” and live in Houston, click here to apply.
For more information on MAFS’ current season, click here.
Nigerian Bread Seller Lands Modeling Contract After Photobombing Rapper’s Shoot
She was discovered on the streets of the city of Lagos by international photographer Ty Bello, who was shooting with English rapper Tinie Tempah. Unintentionally, Orisaguna came out in one of the images.
Days later, Bello shared pictures from that shoot on his social media but with interest of finding out who the bread seller was in the photo.
“WHO IS SHE? Everyone has been asking if this lady is a model… She definitely SHOULD be a model… I’ll find a way to track her down somehow. You guys can also help,“ the photographer captioned the post.
BEATIFULX : WHO IS SHE.Every one has been asking if this lady is a model .. It was just perfect coincidence … She just happened to be walking by while I photographed . It happened so fast .She definitely SHOULD be a model. .. I’m happy to help her build a portfolio if she’s interested .She’s so beautiful and photographed so well. I’ll find a way to track her down somehow . You guys can also help #lagos #doesanyonerecognizeher #okunorentwins #tinietempah @thisdaystyle #lagos #phaseone
As PEOPLE notes, from that moment on, her life changed forever. In less than a year, Orisaguna managed to sign contracts with recognized agencies. Earlier this year, she wrapped up her tour of South Africa and she also launched a vlog and reality show.
“I never expected this would ever happen to me,” she told CNN. “My friends have told me they saw me on the TV and they are really happy. My parents cannot believe their own child can become such a success.”
In March, she celebrated the one year anniversary of her discovery. In an exclusive interview with Pulse in January, Orisaguna spoke about the people who have been influential in her rise to fame. During the interview, she thanked Azuka Ogujuiba of ThisDay Newspaper, as she was instrumental in Olajumoke’s success story.
Orisaguna, who left her two children and husband to sell bread, is now being offered by a bank to pay for her kid’s education through college.
‘Origin of Everything’ on PBS Sparks Interest with Controversial & Everyday Topics (EUR Exclusive!)
*“Origin of Everything,” available on PBS.org, has been exploring topics since 2017 that run the gamut. The show jumps into a variety of subjects by investigating daily life like the words we use, pop culture, and why we are hooked on technology.
The show does not shy away from controversial topics such as slavery, race and ethnicity, and mass incarceration of African Americans.
Danielle Bainbridge, Ph.D., the host and lead writer of “Origin of Everything,” told the EUR in a recent interview that the series is about making people think beyond the restrictive ways we have been taught to view history.
“It’s a show about our collective story and how we are envisioning history,” Dr. Bainbridge said. ”How do we think about history that includes all of us and just not the figures and facts that we were taught in school. So, it’s a show about under told and underrepresented history. We’re trying to make history feel very present to the people who watch it.”
She continued, “One of the reasons to watch it is if you’re curious about how did we get to our current moment? How do small things such as why do we eat popcorn at the movies or what is the origin of ethnicity and how do these things still impact the way we think about the world?”
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Deftly equipped to talk about controversial topics, Dr. Bainbridge holds a Ph.D. in African American Studies and American Studies from Yale University and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in English & Theatre Arts. She is also a faculty member at Northwestern University in Theatre and African American Studies
In early 2017, when she was a graduate student, she was contacted by PBS about working on the show and thought it was a joke.
“When they first reached out to me, I thought it was a hoax,” Dr. Bainbridge said. “I was thinking how would they even know who I am because I was a graduate student? But I think they found me through a since defunct janky website that I had set up. They reached out to me, I auditioned, did a screen test, and a writing sample and after that I was hired to help develop the show.”
Viewers are encouraged to be interactive with the series because it is digital. With instant commentary from the audience, the show knows immediately what viewers think, which for the most part is positive. However, when it delves into controversial subject matters things can get sticky.
“I would say overall people are pretty positive about the series because most of the folks who watch it are longtime watchers who tune in every week for episodes,” Dr. Bainbridge said. “The only exception is if we cover more sensitive topics like, race, gender, or sexuality we will get some pushback. I think that’s just the cost of doing business with open discourse.”
One of the most controversial shows was about the transatlantic slave trade.
“We did one episode on why Europeans enslaved Africans and that was probably our most viewed episode as well as our most critiqued one,” Dr. Bainbridge said. “I think often times if you view yourself as pretty well versed in history from what you learn in school and then you learn something that goes in the opposite direction it can be jarring or for some people upsetting. We think of it as our value or service to our audience to present accurate history or history that doesn’t get told that often so that people can be informed with the whole picture.”
She added that she has an answer for those who point out that Africans sold slaves to Europeans.
“Slavery was not invented with West Africans and Europeans,” Dr. Bainbridge continued. “Some form of enslavement – whether through war, becoming a prisoner of war, or through different systems – goes back to ancient societies from around the world. So, it is not distinct to West Africa or Europe or any other region of the world.”
Dr. Bainbridge added, “But the difference with this particular moment in slavery was that it intersected with capitalism in a way that was very different with slavery that preceded it. People were taken into the system and their children inherited their status as a slave and that is where the differences started to emerge. We have to think about these things as distinct only because the system that existed with chattel slavery was so radically different than the slavery that existed around the world beforehand.”
With the ongoing protests against police brutality, “Origin of Everything” has also tackled the racist beginnings of United States law. Dr. Bainbridge breaks down the discriminatory history by looking at colonialism, slavery, the Jim Crow era, and mass incarceration.
“I decided to write this episode about legal discrimination, and I didn’t have a particular agenda in mind,” she said. “As I started doing the research it was overwhelming. I started to find (material) that just dealt with legal discrimination about black people in this country from its origin to now. I thought it was something that people needed to know.”
“I was never taught in any history class that I took through high school any of the information from that episode. I was taught that things are fair and that a lot of the blame was placed inadvertently or inherently on black communities, impoverished communities, or communities that struggle. When I saw that in some ways the law was stacked against black people and certain other populations, I thought that was important to bring to light. In this moment, people are looking for reliable sources and this could add to the conversation.”
New episodes of “Origin of Everything” are available on PBS.org and the PBS Digital Studios’ YouTube Channel. Join the conversation by visiting Twitter-@PBSOrigin and Instagram-@pbsoriginofeverything.
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